Skip to comments.Liberal Nostalgiacs Donít Understand Jobs of the Future
Posted on 04/24/2012 4:26:50 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
I dont know how many times Ive seen liberal commentators look back with nostalgia to the days when a young man fresh out of high school or military service could get a well-paying job on an assembly line at a unionized auto factory that could carry him through to a comfortable retirement.
As it happens, I grew up in Detroit and for a time lived next door to factory workers. And I know something that has eluded the liberal nostalgiacs. Which is that people hated those jobs.
The assembly-line work was boring and repetitive. Thats because management imbibed Frederick W. Taylors theories that workers were stupid and could not be trusted with any initiative.
It was also because the thousands of pages of work rules in United Auto Workers contracts, which forbade assembly-line speedups, also barred any initiative or flexible response.
Thats why the UAW in 1970 staged a long strike against General Motors to give workers the option of early retirement, 30-and-out. All those guys who had gotten assembly-line jobs at 18 or 21 could quit at 48 or 51.
The only problem was that when they retired they lost their health insurance. So the UAW got the Detroit Three auto companies to pay for generous retiree health benefits that covered elective medical and dental procedures with little or no co-payments.
It was those retiree health benefits more than anything else that eventually drove General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy and into ownership by the government and the UAW.
The liberal nostalgiacs would like to see an economy that gives low-skill high-school graduates similar opportunities. Thats what Barack Obama seems to be envisioning when he talks about hundreds of thousands of green jobs.
But those green jobs have not come into existence despite massive government subsidies and crony capitalism. Its become apparent that the old Detroit model was unsustainable and cannot be revived even by the most gifted community organizer and adjunct law professor.
For one thing, in a rapidly changing and technologically advanced economy, the lifetime job seems to be a thing of the past. Particularly lifetime jobs where you work only 30 years and then get supported for the next 30 or so years of your life.
Todays young people cant expect to join large organizations and in effect ride escalators for the rest of their careers. The new companies emerging as winners in high tech think Apple or Google just dont employ that many people, at least in the United States.
Similarly, todays manufacturing firms produce about as large a share of the gross national product as they used to, but with a much smaller percentage of the labor force.
Moreover, theres evidence that recent growth in some of the professions law, higher education has been a bubble, and is about to burst.
The bad news for the Millennial generation that is entering its work years is that the economy of the future wont look like the economy weve grown accustomed to. The hope and change that Barack Obama promised hasnt produced much more than college loans that will be hard to pay off and a health-care law that lets them stay on Mommy and Daddys health insurance till theyre 26.
The good news is that information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work and create careers that build on their own personal talents and interests.
As Walter Russell Mead writes in his brilliant blog, Via Meadia, referring to young people, The career paths theyve been trained for are narrowing and they are going to have to launch out in directions they and their teachers didnt expect. They were bred and groomed to live as house pets; they are going to have to learn to thrive in the wild.
But, as Mead continues, The future is filled with enterprises not yet born, jobs that dont yet exist, wealth that hasnt been created, wonderful products and life-altering service not yet given form.
As Jim Manzi argues in his new book, Uncontrolled, we cant predict what this new work world will look like. It will be invented through trial and error.
What we can be sure of is that creating your own career will produce a stronger sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Young people who do so wont hate their work the way those autoworkers hated those assembly-line jobs.
Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.
That is a truly great piece.
The concept of planning a career is shown to be fallacious. Serendipity rules. The controlling force is uncontrollable entropy.
An education lacking generous doses of science and math is problematic. Learning to develop problems to be solved is the key.
What was isn’t...... here. What was is beginning to seep in to explosive change from poverty to relative plenty elsewhere. Until and unless that concept is understood, life will be difficult and unrewarding.
I was telling young people in the late 80’s that in the future you will not be able to afford a home (other than a cramped apartment) if you can not say one of these things about your job:
1. I’m in sales.
2. I own my own business.
3. You can not pull an average person off the street and teach them my job in a few weeks.
It is coming true. Our standard of living is in decline. The good news is that many are learning that there is a difference between a high standard of living and a high quality of life. I left the former in the suburbs of Seattle (Bellevue) and found the latter on a farm in Central KY. I almost feel like I wasted those decades in Seattle. Almost - for they gave me an appreciation for what I have here. ;-)
OK, everyone is going to be i-pod programmers and live happily ever after. Too bad half the country has an IQ < 100 and couldn’t learn anything more than a manual labor job. So pay them to not work and buy products made by third world slaves. What a system.
If we could just get the govt boot off the neck of the private sector, a thousand flowers would bloom.
Nah, better to sit in a gray cube in a dirty govt office for 40 years, then retire, having accomplished nothing. It’s a very satisfying life.
With respect to the poster, this article seems like pie in the sky “free trade” propaganda, to excuse off-shoring, and provide cover for not doing anything to stop it.
Bring back American jobs, bring back American manufacturing.
We need to make things here.
Jobs of the future are — jobs.
They'd also hate working at Wal-Mart or Best Buy, and not get paid nearly as much while creating nothing.
"information technology provides the iPod/Facebook generation with the means to find work"
Yeah.... For H1Bs to find work. Of the Americans they DO hire, what exactly are they PRODUCING that adds real VALUE to the economy? If the iGadgets were actually manufactured here, that would be another matter.
Right now there are a number of good paying jobs for these types of young people, here in the Pennsylvania gas fields.
The #1 problem that these reporters are reporting is that decades of Liberalism has destroyed their work ethic.
The first time things get a little tough, they get into an argument with the boss, or have to pull overtime in bad weather they cop an attitude and they quit.
Jobs of the future are going to be a little more “home spun”...
Growing more food than your family can eat and trading/selling the excess will be the most prevalent and in-demand “job of the future”.
Rush is talking about this essay. It’s a brave new world.
I think we need people willing to get dirty in the “low skilled” fields just as much as we need the college educated cutting edge workers.
Living just down the road from Ann Arbor I hear this jobs of the past vs jobs of the future crap all the time. The reality is that we need both and always will.